g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, April 21, 2006
16:33 - It was fun while it lasted
http://www.cartoonbrew.com/archives/2006_04.html#001871

(top)
Lots of insight into Cartoon Network's perplexing move to live-action programming here, at Cartoon Brew.

Apparently it's about money. Even though Adult Swim has been rated the #1 block among the biggest money-spending demographic since it launched in 2001, there just isn't any commercial tie-in or merchandising to speak of, which means the cost of developing animated shows—even the masterful examples of limited, ultra-cheap animation that make up the core of the block—can't be offset as they normally would. So they have no choice but to snap up old shows from the remainder pages of the catalog and cram them in where they think they'll get the same number of eyeballs as they had for the preceding half-hour, because people won't bother changing the channel.

Well, joke's on you, Turner brass: I'm changing the channel. I'll leave it on Family Guy with the sound turned off if it means Futurama will be on later; but I'll be damned if anyone's going to walk into my room and see me "watching" Saved by the Bell.

So I guess that's it then. There's nothing left on Cartoon Network that I actually want to watch; and Adult Swim has lost all traces of being something I can convince myself to watch as a block. Now I'm no longer going to take the bad with the good, and I'll start taking my late-night shows a la carte, like I did before 2001. And thus dies Adult Swim. Of self-inflicted wounds.

Thursday, April 20, 2006
02:35 - Oh, is that what that was about?
http://newsbusters.org/node/4998

(top)
So the woman shown yelling next to a TV camera was a Falun Gong activist mad at Hu Jintao?

American media companies don't always back down. Sometimes, however, they're censored directly by the Chinese government itself. Such was the case today when a protestor apparently affiliated with the meditation group Falun Gong managed to get herself close to Chinese president Hu Jintao as he was visiting the White House.

As the woman's voice began shouting out before being arrested by Secret Service agents, Chinese television blacked the screen and muted the audio, according to Matt Drudge. After the event was over, when CNN International (the version of CNN seen outside the United States) began discussing the protestor, its signal was abuptly cut off to Chinese viewers, making some wonder what was going on.

Funny. The way CBS presented it during a commercial bump was: A heckler embarrasses George W. Bush! Details at 11:00.


20:08 - Convergence

(top)
I don't think you can do much better than TUAW's take on a certain recent Bush speech that mentions the iPod.

All I can say is: Heh.


10:40 - We must riot and behead the copyright violators!
http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49820

(top)
Well, this one sure fits into the "Oddly Enough" section:

An Arab airline has hijacked the look of the cartoon kids from television's "South Park" to market its flights throughout the Middle East.

Air Arabia, a discount carrier based in the United Arab Emirates, features on its website the images of animated children who bear a striking resemblance to characters such as Stan, Kyle and Eric from the Comedy Central hit.

They did a better job of mimicking the South Park look than Michael Moore did, at least...

Via Kris.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
17:12 - Microsoft's Copland
http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/winvista_5308_05.asp

(top)
You know, one could read this article by Windows pundit Paul Thurott on the sorry state of Windows Vista today with a kind of mean glee. But I can't. It's really, really sad. And I say this as someone who has secretly, if not overtly, hoped that something like this would happen to Microsoft ever since I touched my first Unix machine ten years ago.

It's devastating—not least because Thurott has been one of Vista's biggest champions over the past three years, and now he feels completely betrayed. He rips feature after feature, ridicules crappy interface decisions with the zeal of a Mac geek, and demurely acknowledges areas where Vista's only real successes are where it's copied Apple. I hardly even have the heart to pile on myself by pointing out things like how the "attractive" interface of Windows Media Player 11 is full of confusing and redundant elements like actions listed along with data sources and needlessly detailed rating systems, or how the "glass windows" he likes so much end up looking like a baroque gold picture frame around a photo of a construction site latrine when they contain things like icons from the Win95 era. And I won't even bother coughing "Cargo Cult" under my breath when I see things like their new obtuse permissions-enforcement model (UAP) or their see-if-you-can-guess-which-window-is-on-top "Aero" interface, which—honest!—isn't meant to evoke "Aqua" at all, no sir.

The overwhelming feeling, rather, is one of sadness—because today, the way Thurott describes Mac OS X and Linux is as ever-present, hungry competitors, not as laughable also-rans. Which means that even the 800-pound gorilla realizes that it has to compete to win. And if this—dare I say it—quagmire of software development is the extent to which Microsoft can compete with the state of the art, then even Apple and Linux won't have a need to push themselves as hard anymore in the future when they're the only ones still running the race.

It's a rare time right now: an era of genuine competition in the operating system space. Customers are getting more and better features and a better computing experience almost with each passing day now, a far cry from the heady days of the Internet's youth when we all had to juggle incomprehensible acronyms and Trumpet Winsock and SLIP/PPP logon scripts and modem init strings and other strange phone-hacker jargon, and deal with ad-hoc third-party geek-authored tools to perform even the simplest tasks. Laptops today are so good that they can be used as complete desktop replacements, not the dim-screened, overpriced fashion accessories they once were. iPods are cross-platform, and so is the Internet and all useful file types. Computing is more transparent than it's ever been before, and for that we can thank a complacent Microsoft and an Apple virile enough to reclaim its lead in innovating in the market. But too much of that same formula will threaten to bring about an end to this era of advancement before its final fruits can really be harvested.

I find myself hoping Vista comes out when they now say it will, and that it includes some features that Windows users can honestly crow about. The game of leapfrog is what makes the tech world flourish, and both sides need someone to try to jump over.

Via Doug M.


15:51 - Here come da bulldozers

(top)
Last week I said:

Compare that with the technical efforts that would be needed for Apple to refit OS X for generic x86 hardware. All those drivers? All that compatibility testing? That wouldn't be some afterthought by a guy in a lab; it would involve buying a new campus or two.


And today, there's this (via Daring Fireball):

SAN FRANCISCO, April 19 (Reuters) - Apple Computer Inc. is planning to build a new, 50-acre campus near its present headquarters in Cupertino, California, the company's CEO, Steve Jobs, said.

"What's happened at Apple is that our business has basically tripled in the last five or six years," Jobs said on Tuesday evening at a Cupertino city council meeting, which was recorded and viewable as an archived Webcast.

Jobs said that it would likely take three to four years to design and build the campus and that it could accommodate 3,000 to 3,500 employees.

Gads.

I guess that ballot proposition last year, whose aim was to make sure big taxpaying companies like Apple and HP stayed in Cupertino, must have passed.

If what they say is true, though, business is so good that there's no reason to worry that they're doing this in order to start being a PC software house.

Now I just wonder where the hell they're planning to fit this new campus? Cupertino real estate is pretty much spoken for...

UPDATE: Ah! So it's that one mysterious lot next to Vallco that's been a grassy field since I can remember. Interesting! That location was running through my head—honestly—but I assumed it had been vacant this whole time for a good reason...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
01:56 - My brain 'urts
http://www3.youtube.com/watch?v=vj7akN6CBUo&search=Forest%20in%20winter

(top)
Grandmother house is fired!



I have no idea what this is. But I'm pretty sure it's funny as hell.


15:06 - Battle of the Deprogrammers

(top)
So the Windows people think Boot Camp is going to cause Mac users to be "deprogrammed" and switch to Windows (or else they abjectly fail to understand what Boot Camp is, and then write clueless bash pieces sight unseen); and on the other side of the fence, the Mac pundits think Boot camp is going to both establish OS X as the premier PC operating system, and lead to a new era of trouble-free Windows computing).

At least, that's what Cringely says, and to me this article reads like a bit of a backpedal from his previous entry in which he sagely claimed that Apple would start selling Windows. It's a backpedal, to me, in the sense that I think he's justifying his position as best he can, while hedging with reasons that might make it possibly make sense. Even when it doesn't.

Sure, the benefits he points out are concrete, provided a true virtualization solution for Windows under OS X is fast enough and usable enough that the people who would like to live under a reimage-Windows-every-night administration scheme can tolerate the tedium of it all. (This isn't a small concern. Seasoned computer users all have their deeply-entrenched usage habits, and even a single extra minor step in their routines can become maddening, which is why everyone was so relieved to see their last Classic apps go away. Windows apps that would be run within a Windows virtualization window within OS X, where Windows would have to launch on demand like Classic, would inescapably be less seamless than a fully booted-into-Windows experience, and unless they only use Windows for the occasional little utility, people are going to be pushed one way or the other—into OS X full-time or Windows full-time. This will especially be true of gamers.)

But my personal feeling remains that driving Windows-related features is not Apple's top priority in Leopard. Just because they're on Intel now doesn't mean the architecture shift can be read as a preparation for such a drastic shift in the business model. I still think that considering the minimal engineering investment that Boot Camp really represents, adding Windows compatibility to the Intel Mac hardware is really just a courtesy—something they would have had to be ridiculously parochial not to do, in fact. It was just really, really convenient. Plus it gained them a lot of goodwill across the industry and a lot of press, to say nothing of a stock price boost. What's not to like?

We still don't know what big new features are planned as the centerpieces for Leopard. But the notices are starting to circulate for WWDC in August, where Leopard's first previews will be rolled out. That's when we'll know just how far Apple intends to take this whole Windows thing.

(I do, however, like Cringely's idea that with Avie Tevanian's departure, we might see a move away from Mach, Avie's pet kernel. OS X does need help with its I/O and VM performance, and there are better kernels out there.)

UPDATE: Oh, shut up, Dvorak. Nobody's listening to you, especially Apple. Thank goodness.

Monday, April 17, 2006
09:37 - As opposed to what?

(top)
One of the Adult Swim bumps last night went something like this:

This is a bump
Written by writers
And approved by a set of standards & practices.
Preceding it was a promo
Written by writers
And approved by a set of standards & practices.
Following it is a show
Written by writers
And approved by a set of standards & practices.
One block, three sets of standards.
How American.
We prefer BIG to efficient.
[crappy 1980s live-action tv network]

Now, I can handle America-bashing that has grounds; if they were poking fun at SUVs or guns or something, at least they'd have a point to make that's grounded in reality. Even though I might disagree with it, at least arguing with it would potentially have some semblance of being a productive use of time. And I don't doubt that the bump writers have some frustrations to work out against their various onerous standards-n-practices bodies.

But what I don't get is when people bash America for no reason that I can discern. I mean, what, now they're picking on us for being too bureaucratic?

What country is popularly reputed to be less bureaucratic than the US? France, where half the country works for the government and the rest want to? Britain, where everyone fears the future of Brazil? Russia, where not just bureaucracy but rampant corruption are the mechanisms by which the country is run?

Methinks the bump writers don't have any idea what they think they're comparing America to here—they just know that it plucks the right comedic strings to pick on it and give the vague impression that everything is better elsewhere.

Which is fine if you're a comedy writer; nobody expects you to be some high-powered political analyst. But it's the impulse that gets to me: the idea that America-bashing, even if it's completely groundless, is a sure way to score points, one that nobody will call you on.

I mean, what does that say about what we've become? Do we as a country hate ourselves that much, that we're willing to criticize ourselves completely gratuitously? Just because it feels good?


09:27 - There's only one Steve

(top)
Seems there's a spate of Apple-keynote-style demos being undertaken all around the tech industry lately—or, at least, demos that aren't exactly living up to the standard they're trying to imitate.

First there's this comedy of errors surrounding Microsof't "Origami" device, which doesn't seem to want to cooperate with either its input system or its battery.

Then, Intel joins the fray with a demo of a "zero-button remote" that looks like it might benefit from, oh, one or two.

Sure, I know this kind of thing can happen to anyone—and hell, it's happened to Steve a number of times over the years. But geez, these demos lately must have been absolutely painful to sit through; and as for the execs fumbling with their products on stage in front of millions, it must have been excruciating.

Via Daring Fireball and TUAW.

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